I'm a black woman but that doesn't make me the the best friend, the funny friend, the funny fat friend or the friend who loves chicken. News flash, I don't even eat meat. Being funny just happens to be a coincidence heightened by past life trauma. Let me be the first to say, I am a fan of stereotypes being used in the media where necessary. Stereotypes can be comedic, they are funny, they make us laugh, what kind of world would this be if we couldn't laugh at ourselves. So I want to talk about this thing from my point of view, a black woman who has loved media studies, blogging and films since forever.
If there is a film playing on black stereotypes and the characters are being portrayed as such for the name of creativity, awareness and art, I am all here for that. I enjoy watching and being humoured by the stereotypical things we do in our households, the conversations we have with our peers, our slang and more. The thing about stereotypes is that they do not come from nowhere, we cannot be blind to the fact that who we are, the country we are from, the colour of our skin, the way we talk, our sexual orientation and so much more can determine a lot of factors that fall into these stereotypical categories.
For example, I'm sure the majority of black women reading this post has some kind of weird hair comment in their lifetime, especially at work.
'How did your hair grow so fast?' It's a wig, I had a bob yesterday Susan.
'Can I touch your hair? I love afros.' No Susan.
'Omg you've dyed your hair, you're so daring.' Same wig, different colour Susan.
'Is that your natural hair then?' Braids Susan, braids.
Does every single white person ask us these questions? Of course not but it is a funny scenario that happens all of the time.
Let's talk more about representation in films, my girl crush of life, Zoe Kravitz an interracial actress and musician has spoken about being put into categories in the industry because of the colour of her skin. For example, she is always put forward for black roles or the best friend as opposed to the main character or the girl next door.
In 2017 Zoe shared this post to her social media account.
It's a quote from the late Jean-Michel Basquiat and the post received a lot of backlash to say the least.
“I think I’ll go take a Black walk. And have a black talk. With my black friend. Maybe have some black lunch. Watch a black movie, sing a black song, smoke a black bong… then take a black nap in my black bed in my back sheets and have some back dreams. …..Happy to be be black. Just don’t need to say it in front of everything," she said with the hashtag #artisart."
Here are my thoughts, I'm a human. I don't take a black walk, I don't lay in my black bed and I don't drink black water. I'm just a human and I want my art to be perceived as art from a human to other humans. It can be frustrating being put into the box of a black artist but equally it is who I am and it would be naive of me to pretend that I don't see and enjoy the perks. I am thrilled when I see a company looking for young black writers or black artists, our art is perceived in a different way by black people, black creatives want to support other black creatives. When I was younger it meant that I out of a sea of many faces I finally felt like I had a chance at something so yes I am proud of being black and in some ways it does define me, but it does not fully define my identity or my art.
Zoe's words definitely do not come from a place of self hate and a neglect for her blackness but of a place of frustration. “I ask writers and producers: ‘Why don’t you have any black people in your film?’, ‘Why do stories happen to white people and everyone else is a punchline?’,” she told The Guardian in 2015. “What I’m finding is that a lot of people don’t see it’s an issue because it’s not their story, unless they’re black or a minority.”